Chris Weber, the senior, a captain, and leader of a defense that once again was flayed open for all to see by Ohio State's offense, saw the pockets of empty seats that grew larger as Saturday's debacle wore on.

And he understood. How could he not?

"Not a great feeling," said the Elkhorn native, who sat in his share of packed stadiums as a kid. "But I can't blame them. At the point we were down, that's on us."

Take your pick from the Ohio State numbers that rolled by like a slot machine on Memorial Stadium's massive video board: 633 total yards — the fourth-most ever against a Nebraska defense; an astounding 41 first downs — seven more than any team had ever gained against NU; 10 of 13 on third down conversions, including the first eight in a row.

And of course the points. Fifty-six of them, without a punt. The Buckeyes didn't punt against Nebraska last year, either. They haven't punted against NU since 2012.

Stunning numbers, even in a game most expected Ohio State to win handily. Afterwards, there was little to be said, no good way to explain why this powerhouse to the east continues to manipulate Nebraska's defenders with such ease, no matter the scheme. On a night that only grew colder and windier, no one could place blame on even the most ardent of Husker supporters for finally seeing enough.

"It was all disappointing," NU defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said. "There was nothing that wasn't disappointing about tonight's performance at every level."

Diaco has cautioned more than once this season of the growing pains that come with players learning a new scheme, and many times having to learn it in the heat of competition. It was never going to be a smooth transition. But it was ugly again as NU's inexperience at some positions was laid bare. Just as it was last week against Wisconsin. Just as it always seems to be against the Buckeyes.

"That's exactly it," Diaco said of players learning on the fly. "It doesn't feel good. That might not make everybody happy — I'm sure it doesn't. But it doesn't make it any less real. These players, in a lot of instances, are learning to play on the job as young players."

A Nebraska defense missing two of its top safeties in Antonio Reed and Aaron Williams, and forced to put a limited Joshua Kalu on the back end along with a redshirt freshman in DiCaprio Bootle, who has spent all season as a corner, never had an answer and frankly was never close to finding one.

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett was 27-of-33 for 325 yards and five touchdowns. The Buckeyes averaged 6 yards per rush. Receivers ran unfettered between Nebraska's defensive line and its second level, even as NU often dropped eight men into coverage. It was all so easy. And so familiar.

"In-game, there are some moments of very youthful, inexperienced play. And when you play against great teams, that's typically, at least it looks, that it's always at the point of attack," Diaco said. "Because they're going to find the vulnerability."

Preparation, at least for another opponent, will go to the back burner for a few days as the Huskers head into their bye week.

"You have pride, and you love football, you love this university and you love the game, so you never want to lose like that," said sophomore linebacker Mohamed Barry. "So you just have to suck it up and get better, because at the end of the day it's the next game. This game is done."

The game is done, but the memories burn. Ohio State isn't going away any time soon. And for one more night the manhandling continued.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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